Stuck in the middle of my copy of Gaston Lenôtre’s inspirational and exceptionally detailed Lenôtre’s Ice Creams and Pastries (Flammarion, 1974)—marking the page—is a sheet of yellow copy paper, a legacy of the way newspapers used to be created before computers and the internet and Twitter and Facebook were even twinkles in the eyes of their creators. Scribbled across the top, in a hand that is only just readable, are the words “Perfect (though rich) chocolate parfait”. Years later, after making this delight again—no ice-cream machine required, straight from the Thermomix to the freezer—and tested specifically for TMix+, I would add “very” before rich.
One benefit that comes from such a rich dish is that it fits into my long-held strategy of cooking not just for the moment, but for several days. In this case, not even the most energetic chocophile would stomach more than a spoonful at a sitting, which means there’s more for tomorrow, and the next day and the next. It’s the sort of dessert you take by the spoonful, swirl around your mouth (in the style of a wine snob, poseur), and return for more and more and more, no matter how self-disciplined you thought you were.
For me, it’s the dessert equivalent of strawberry daiquiri: “one more can’t hurt me, can it?”. Then you pull away from the supporting bar, then you fall down. I’m like this with most things chocolate: I love it, I leave it, I go at it with gusto and next day wonder what happened to that “self-discipline”. There are so many analogies with chocolate and its byproducts—indulgence, guilt, remorse, and here-we-go-again—but perhaps they are better found in forums other than the pages of a food magazine.
Meanwhile, if you intend to take to this dessert sensibly, at least the second time, it is important to balance its richness with something acidic, something sharp, to assist in the eating/indulging process (thus the raspberries). That might sound like a formula for gluttony, but really, it’s about enhancing the star of the show, rather than finding room for more chocolate in your tummy.